As autumn paints the countryside in red, orange and gold, visitors and locals alike take to the road. But where to go? These easy drives get you just outside the city where the region reveals the splendors of the season and much more.
Less than an hour’s drive from Center City, the bucolic Brandywine Valley is steeped in American history; it was the site of a key Revolutionary War battle led by General George Washington.
The peaceful region is now home to farm-to-table restaurants, small-batch wineries, the Brandywine River Museum and Longwood Gardens—a spectacular, 1,077-acre botanic wonderland. Here, visitors walk among the vibrant colors of the surrounding trees along the trails of the Meadow Garden and catch thousands of bright, blooming chrysanthemums formed into orbs and pagodas adorning the Conservatory. Oct. 24-Nov. 17.
Delaware Canal State Park
In northern Bucks County, about an hour and a half from Philadelphia, this park features a 60-mile towpath running along the Delaware River from Easton to Bristol. Bring a bike or kayak or just plan to amble along the trail, taking in the leafy, jewel-toned landscapes. Just a couple of miles down the road, the Bridge Café—a former train station—makes a picturesque post for a late lunch and serene river views.
Built in the early 20th century by archaeologist and ceramist Henry Chapman Mercer, this stately stone estate in Doylestown, Pennsylvania, is surrounded by bucolic grounds. Explore the sprawling mansion, which showcases Mercer’s handcrafted Moravian tiles embedded in the walls, floors and ceilings, and then stroll the property to see nature’s answer to the artist’s handiwork.
Valley Forge National Historical Park
After exploring Philadelphia’s historic gems, head outside the city to this site, where George Washington’s Continental Army camped during the winter of 1777. The 3,600-acre park bursts with a rich palette of colors in autumn, and visitors can take it all in on a trolley tour or hike featuring monuments and key sites. Don’t miss Washington’s headquarters, a small stone house built along the Schuylkill River.
Washington Crossing Historic Park
About an hour north into Bucks County, this park named for the site where George Washington famously crossed the Delaware River during the Revolutionary War offers 500 acres of vivid colors and a network of trails for hiking or biking. From there, take the scenic Route 32 north, stopping along the way at Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve and Bowman’s Hill Tower, where a climb up the 125-foot stone edifice reveals sweeping views of the park and winding river. End the day with dinner at one of the cozy riverside restaurants in New Hope.